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updated APR 20 2014

Symbols and Colors Used on Pysanky

Symbols

Motifs in designs are usually abstract representations of actual objects, creatures, etc.

Ladders
prosperity, or prayer.
Pine Needles
health, stamina, eternal youth.
Crosses
Christ, or the Four Corners of the World.
Wheat
wishes for good health and a good harvest.
The Sun and Stars
life, fortune, growth.
Deer, Horses, and/or Rams
wealth and prosperity.
Fish
Christianity
Curls
defense or protection.
Roses
love, caring.
Poppies
beloved Ukrainian art motif, symbolizing joy and beauty.
Triangles
trinities, eg.: air, fire, & water; the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit; heaven, earth, & hell.
The Saw
fire, life-giving heat (also known as Wolves' teeth, symbolizing loyalty and wisdom).
Birds
fulfillment of wishes, and fertility. The bird is always shown at rest, never flying.
Nets
Christ's reference to becoming "fishers of people".
Ribbons
everlasting life, and water.


For further info on symbols and color meanings, check out Wikipedia.

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Colors

Here are some of the symbolic meanings for colors used in decorating pysanky:
White--Purity, innocence and birth; Yellow--light, purity, happiness, hospitality; Orange--strength, endurance, the eternal sun; Black--eternity, darkest time before the dawn; Light Blue--the sky, with its life-giving air, good health; Light Green--spring, new growth and hope; Bright Red--happiness in life, hope, passion, the sun.


Sources: Ukrainian Design Book 1, Ukrainian Design Book 2, Eggs Beautiful.
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